Sets always plays a crucial role in any film. They're a big factor in creating the feel and look for the film. The inputs and hard work of the art director often go unnoticed but definitely not in these specific Telugu movies.
Some are so stunning and so grand and realistic that they have lasted the test of time and become as the iconic as the film themselves. Box office result aside, these sets plays a pivotal role in providing a visual feast for the audience throughout the narrative.
1) Baahubali Sets: Location - Ramoji Film City
Probably the most famous telugu movie sets of all time, India's biggest blockbuster Baahubali's sets were designed by Sabu Cyril and wowed in unimaginable ways. The big twist is that there was only minimal sets done.
Everything else done in the picture above doesn't exist. That's right. Sadly most of the movie was VFX and it robs the audience of a true experience. Nonetheless, the effort needs to appreciate in providing a wholesome viewing experience.
The sets are now available to the public at Ramoji Film City and you can take a tour of the sets in all their VFX less glory.
2) Charminar Set in Okkadu - Location: Gandipet (Destroyed)
Along with the movie itself, the Charminar where Mahesh Babu and Bhumika hide became iconic. But not many know that it's actually a set. The amazing reconstruction is so good that you feel it's the real thing in the Old City. The stunning model was a to scale replication of the actual Charminar.
The film's unit erected the Charminar set in a ten acres of land owned by D. Ramanaidu at Gopannapalle near Hyderabad. The original height of Charminar is 176 feet (54 m) and the height of each minaret is 78 feet (24 m) feet. The film's unit decided to construct the set with a length of 120 feet (37 m) feet by not altering the minarets and instead reduce the total length of the remaining part. The surroundings of Charminar were recreated in five acres around the set. 300 workers were employed in the construction of the set which lasted for three months and costed ₹17.5 million.
3) Kondareddy Buruju in Sarileru Neekevvaru - Location: Ramoji Film City
The Kondareddy Buruju is an iconic monument not only in Kurnool but for Telugu movie fans across the world specifically superstar Mahesh Babu fans. It was here that Ajay hit Obul Reddy in Kurnool and the goosebumps background score and scene that essentially catapulted Mahesh to stardom in Telugu cinema.
While that scene was actually filmed in Kurnool at the real fort, 17 years later director Anil Ravipudi decided to recreate the famous fort in Ramoji Film City for his latest movie Sarileru Neekevvaru. Art director AS Prakash designed the set and surrounding areas which cost about 4 crores ($700,000). The set, along with the classic interval sequence will be remembered by every Telugu movie fan for a long time.
Along with the Baahubali sets, fans can now visit the famous sets located deep within RFC on a bus tour.
4) Madurai Meenakshi Set in Arjun - Location: Padamalaya Studios (Destroyed)
Photo Credit: Idlebrain.com
One of the best sister sentiment movies in Tollywood and which seems to be a Mahesh Babu forte, another stunning set was recreated for his movie Arjun which is set in Madurai. Art director Thota Tharani was behind this marvelous masterpiece which was arguably the highlight of the film.
Thotta Tharani along with director and his team stayed in Madurai Meenakshi Temple for 15 days. He drew his sketches to the minute details and replicated it in Hyderabad. The initial estimate of the Temple set cost was ₹2.5 crores which was supposed to be built in 3 months. But, it took 6 months with over 500 workers constructing the set. The total cost of this set turned out to be ₹4 crores. This set was constructed in 5 acre space of Padmalaya Studios near Gandipet. This set consist of Gaali Gopuram, Pond and Garbhagudi.
The set had a lifetime of 3 years with resistance to all types of climatic conditions. Thotta Tharani used 90 tons of iron in the construction of this temple set for longevity. 90 tons of iron itself cost around 42 lakhs. Pond in the temple has a depth of 3 feet. It took 5 days of continuous filling using 5 motors to fill the water. The Gaali Gopuram is of 130 feet, which is equivalent to the original Gaali Gopuram at Madurai temple. A set of temple priests from Madurai came to this set and installed a replica idol of Meenakshi Amman in the Garbhagudi. This traditional installation took 8 hours (from 6 am to 2 pm). Gunasekhar used 25 powerful generation sets for a song to be shot in the temple in night effect.
Two songs from the film were shot here: Madhura Madhura in the day and Dum Dumare in the night.
5) Bhairava Kona and Palace Sets in Magadheera - Location: Ramoji Film City (Destroyed)
As with any SS Rajamouli movie, you expect grandeur and massive and elaborate sets. While the team did film in various location in Gujurat for the chase sequence between Ram Charan and Dev Gill in the 2nd half in a white salt sands, the majority of the film was done through VFX and in Ramoji Film City once again. The Bhairava Kona mountain with Lord Shiva's statue in the background above was one of the many sets appreciated from the film along with the stunning palaces in the song Dheera Dheera below.
6) Rangasthalam Sets - Location: Hyderabad
Along with it's content and taking by director Sukumar, Rangasthalam has emerged as a contemporary classic of Telugu cinema for it's sheer brilliance and detailing, deep context, and symbolism of a simple revenge story based around honour killing. Ram Charan's performance will be remembered for ages to come along with almost every aspect of the film. And the movie would not be complete without the STUNNING sets recreated by Production designers and real-life partners Ramakrishna Sabbani and Mounika Nigottre Sabbani.
They recreated an artistic village of the 80s era comprising a government hospital, Gangalamma temple, panchayat office and houses with old potsherd roofs and mud replicating a beautiful village of Godavari in the city.
Ramakrishna and Mounika recall, “The film has an interesting, yet nostalgic design with props. The emphasis is always on realism. Since the film was set in the 80s, nothing from that era is available in the market. So, we have decided to create everything from the scratch. The rats, roofs, wooden gates, doors, cool drink trays, Frooti pack, Horlicks box, cool drink, trays were all the work of the production department. The village set cost 5 crores ($750,000) and 400 people worked for two months.
The sets still exist today and have been the center of substantial media coverage post the film's release. The sets have been reused for Chiranjeevi's Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy and the upcoming Prabhas20.
7) Badrinath Temple in Badrinath - Location: Kulu Manali
While the film was a disaster due to high production budget which was actually the most expensive Telugu movie ever made at the time, the temple set of the famous Badrinath was created by Anand Sai in Kulu Manali.
The exotic colors and grandeur of the sets are seen in the song Omkareshwari with Allu Arjun flawless dance moves and according to the producer, the sets were appreciated despite the failure.